West Wendover teen sentenced to up to life for
By Aaron Falk - The Salt Lake Tribune
April 17, 2012
Elko, Nev. - Nightmares interrupt Celia Costanzo's
The West Wendover woman hasn't worked a full week
in nearly a year. She cannot bring herself to go the restaurants where
she once met her daughter for lunch. She can seldom cooks at home
because she was teaching Mickey to cook when the 16-year-old was
"There's a part of me that's just been ripped away
and I'm not whole," Celia Costanzo said Monday, as she asked for the
maximum sentence for one of the two teens officials say murdered
Micaela "Mickey" Costanzo.
"There's not a day, not a moment, not a second that
I don't think about her," said her mother.
A few feet away in court, 19-year-old Toni Fratto
sat with her attorneys, listening with her head down. Earlier,
Fratto's parents watched as the petite 19-year-old dragged her ankle
shackles across the hardwood floors in Elko District Court.
It's been just over a year since prosecutors say
Fratto and her boyfriend, 19-year-old Kody Cree Patten, took Micaela
Costanzo into the desert outside West Wendover and killed her with a
Fratto was not a suspect until she came forward to
Patten's attorneys and offered a confession. Earlier this year, Fratto
took a plea deal that removed the possibility of a death penalty in
exchange for her testimony against Patten.
She said she sat on Costanzo's legs as Patten
slashed her throat.
In a tearful hearing Monday, Judge Dan Papez
sentenced Fratto to up to life in prison, with parole possible after
Elko County District Attorney Mark Torvinen called
the slaying as "horrific a murder as I suspect you will ever see,"
made only worse because Costanzo was as "innocent a victim as you
Costanzo was a good student, a basketball player
and a track star. She was the editor of her school's newspaper and she
dreamed of being an author. She would have been graduating in a few
weeks, her mother said.
Papez's description of Costanzo's wounds brought
many to tears, including the parents of Kody Patten, whose son is
scheduled to stand trial in July.
"She suffered during the attack," the judge said.
"It took a long time for her to die. Horrible suffering."
Even after a 3 1/2-hour meeting between Fratto and
prosecutors, questions in the case remain unanswered.
"While there are many facts ... explaining what
happened, I don't have any information about why this happened,"
Papez said. "That's the big question that remains."
"Nobody has an answer for that," defense attorney
John Springgate said after the hearing.
In court, Springgate offered some explanation for
Fratto's role: She was not a "black widow," but rather a "sheep."
Psychological testing has shown Fratto has the mental and emotional
maturity of a 15-year-old, Springgate said, and she was being
controlled by "a boyfriend who was jealous and possessive and
A month before the slaying, security cameras at
West Wendover High School — where Costanzo, Fratto and Patten all had
attended — caught Patten pushing Fratto against a wall, lifting her
legs off the ground as he choked her, Springgate said. It was not the
first nor last time Patten abused Fratto, he said.
Fratto offered an apology to the Costanzos.
"I know what I did was wrong and therefore I am
taking responsibility for my actions," she said through tears. "I'm
sorry for what I did and I'm sorry for what I did not do — and
that is protect [Micaela]."
Fratto has said she came from a family that offered
her "unconditional love," and letters to the judge described Fratto as
a kind and gentle girl, a good student and a good friend.
That's what makes her involvement all the more
puzzling, Papez said.
On the witness stand, Cassie Fratto said her
daughter had started to change in the year before the slaying. The
Frattos allowed Patten to move into their home for about six weeks
before Costanzo's death because they feared their daughter would leave
if they did not.
"We thought Kody was really trying to put his life
in order," Claude Fratto, the girl's father, said in an email to The
Tribune. "He has always had a lot of problems. ... The side of Kody
which we knew is completely different from the Kody we know now."
Every Sunday, after church, Fratto's parents
visit her in the Elko County jail. They say she has changed again in
the last year.
"We have our Toni back," Cassie Fratto said in
Cassie Fratto said she hopes her daughter will one
day be able to have a productive life. The teen has a dream of helping
others, she said. "She wants to help others who have suffered through
abuse, or the pain and anguish of having someone take your life away
'This is a violent killing as I have ever seen'
Judge sentences Mormon girl, 19, to life in prison
for beating girl, 16, to death with shovel
April 17, 2012
A Mormon teenager has been sentenced to life behind
bars for helping her boyfriend beat his ex-girlfriend to death with a
shovel in a crime the judge branded 'as violent as I've ever seen'.
Toni Fratto, who will be eligible for parole in 10
years, avoided a death sentence by entering a plea deal in January and
agreeing to testify against her former boyfriend, Kody Cree Patten,
She admitted they had kidnapped 16-year-old Micaela
Costanzo after school in March 2011. They took her to the desert,
killed her and buried her in a shallow grave near West Wendover,
Fratto, 19, admitted she had hit the girl, a
promising student known as 'Mickey', in the back of the head with a
shovel and sat on her legs while Patten slashed her throat,
the Deseret News reported.
Judge Daniel Papez gave Fratto the maximum penalty
the law allows. She has been sentenced to life behind bars and must
serve at least 18 years with the possibility of parole in 10.
'This is as violent [a killing] as I've seen in 20
years on the bench,' Papez said. 'The attack on Micaela was brutal, it
was vicious, it was violent - all shockingly so.'
Papez described the victim as 'innocent a victim as
you could imagine'. Costanzo was a top student and sports star at the
school, as well as the editor of the student newspaper.
Prosecutors claimed in the trial last July that the
couple, who were planning to get married, murdered Costanzo because
she had been texting Patten asking to get back together with him.
Judge Papez told the court it took a long time for
her to die in the brutal killing.
Fratto, who wept in court as the judge handed down
the punishment, had not been a suspect until she came forward to her
boyfriend's lawyers and confessed to her part in the crime.
Her defence attorney John Springgate pointed out
that no forensic evidence linked her to the scene so it was her
confession that led to her arrest.
He painted a picture of the female killer as a
'sheep' who was not fully in control of her actions, The Salt Lake
Tests proved Fratto had the mental and emotional
maturity of a 15-year-old and was under the influence of Patten, who
was 'jealous and possessive and isolating', Springgate said.
Security cameras at their school had shown footage
of Patten choking Fratto; Springgate said it was not an isolated
incident. He added that it was Patten who had collected the materials
for the killing.
Acknowledging that Fratto had been a well-liked
student with no criminal history, the judge agreed it was 'puzzling
that a person like you could participate in such a terrible crime'.
Her mother Cassie testified that her daughter had
began to change ahead of the murder. Patten had stayed with them for
six weeks before the crime as they feared their daughter would leave
Now, away from the control of her boyfriend, Fratto
is the person they knew before he came into their lives, Cassie said.
Weeping ahead of her sentence, Toni Patten said in
court on Monday: 'I would like to apologise for my actions and the
tragedy that has happened. I know what I did was wrong.
'I'm sorry for what I did to Micaela and for what I
did not do, protect her. It does not change what happened. But I do
mean I'm sorry.'
But there was little forgiveness from the family of
the victim. Costanzo's mother Celia pleaded for the maximum sentence
'There’s a part of me that’s just been ripped away
and I’m not whole. There’s not a day, not a moment, not a second that
I don’t think about her,' she said.
The victim's father, Theodore, had also asked for
the maximum penalty, saying he still felt he was 'dreaming' about the
murder. 'I don't want nothing good for her, ever,' he said of the
As she was handed down the maximum sentence, some
audience members cheered, as Fratto put her head in her hands and
Kody Patten is due to stand trial in July. Fratto
may be called to testify at his trial.
Judge orders life sentence for murder 'as
violent as I've seen'
Hurting families still puzzled over why Wendover
teen was killed
By Pat Reavy - DeseretNews.com
April 16, 2012
ELKO, Nev. — Facing the
family of the West Wendover High School classmate she admitted to help
murdering, Toni Fratto delivered a tearful apology.
"I would like to apologize
for my actions and the tragedy that has happened. I know what I did
was wrong," she said Monday before she was sentenced. "I'm sorry for
what I did to Micaela and for what I did not do, protect her. It does
not change what happened. But I do mean I'm sorry."
Fratto avoided a possible
death sentence by entering a plea deal in January, pleading guilty to
a reduced charge of second-degree murder. She admitted that she and
19-year-old Kody Cree Patten, whom she was reportedly planning to
marry, kidnapped and killed 16-year-old Micaela "Mickey" Costanzo
after school, taking her to a remote area near the Utah-Nevada border,
killing her and then burying her in a shallow grave.
Fratto admitted she hit
Micaela in the back of the head with a shovel and sat on the teen's
legs while Patten slashed her throat on March 3, 2011.
Monday, Elko District Judge
Daniel Papez gave Fratto the maximum penalty the law allows,
sentencing her to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Fratto also received a 20-year weapons enhancement penalty which will
begin after her life sentence is over.
"This is as violent (a
murder) as I've seen in 20 years on the bench," Papez said. "The
attack on Micaela was brutal, it was vicious, it was violent — all
Referring to the medical
examiner's report, Papez said the girl's death was slow and torturous.
Fratto will serve a minimum
of 18 years in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 10 years.
Once she is paroled on her murder conviction, she will serve a minimum
of eight years on her enhancement penalty.
But while her family and
attorneys say Fratto has taken responsibility for her actions, the
question of why Micaela was killed still remained unanswered Monday.
"That's the biggest question
in all of this. She just (said to) me a few days ago, 'Why? Why, why,
why did this happen? I don't understand,'" Cassie Fratto, Toni's
mother, said after the sentencing.
Patten is scheduled to go on
trial July 31 on a charge of first-degree murder. Prosecutor Mark
Torvinen filed notice that he intends to seek the death penalty if
Patten is convicted.
Monday, Cassie Fratto said
there are elements of the case that have not yet been made public.
"There's things that lead up to that night that no one is aware of
yet," she said.
When Patten picked up Fratto
the night of Micaela's murder, he had already been driving around with
Micaela in his truck for about 90 minutes. Cassie Fratto said when
Patten picked up her daughter, she had no idea what was going to
happen. Toni Fratto actually thought her own life was in danger, her
"She did not believe that
she would ever see her family again. She knew her life was in danger,"
Cassie Fratto said. "She knew Kody very well. We all knew Kody very
well. She knew Kody, and she knew the frame of mind he was in that
night. And she knew as soon as she got in the car, she told me, 'Mom,
I knew I wasn't coming home.'"
When asked to explain why
his client went along with the killing and didn't try to help Micaela,
defense attorney John Springgate didn't have an answer.
"We're pretty clear that
adolescents do unbelievably stupid things. And her psychological
profile shows that she is, while she's 19 years old now, mentally and
emotionally she is much younger. And typically adolescents do not
think things out," he said.
"I'm not going to try Mr.
Patten's case. But according to the statements and according to
everything we know, it was Mr. Patten who was getting all the
materials together, it was Mr. Patten who said she had to die. So you
can draw your own conclusion who was the organizer. But the girl I was
representing did not seem like an organizer to me."
Even the judge seemed
confused by Fratto's actions, noting that she had no prior criminal
history at all, even as a juvenile, and was an active member in her
LDS ward and was well-liked in school.
"That's what makes this even
more puzzling, that a person like you could participate in such a
terrible crime," he said. "Micaela's loss to her family, to her
school, to the community of Wendover will be felt forever. I hope that
someday, Ms. Fratto, that you'll be able to get your life back in
order. You have to live with this forever."
Fratto was sentenced before
a full courtroom with members of both families as well as Patten's
father, who sat in the back.
Springgate noted to the
judge before sentencing that Fratto scored below average in her
pre-sentence psychological evaluation. He also noted that she was
mentally and physically abused by Patten. Springgate talked about an
incident in January 2011, prior to Micaela's murder, in which a
security camera at West Wendover High School recorded Patten slamming
Fratto against a locker and strangling her.
Cassie Fratto said since her
daughter has been incarcerated for the past year and away from Patten,
she has returned to being the person she used to be.
"The hope that I have for
Toni is for her to be able to," she told the judge, pausing, "to move
on with her life, her dream, and to be able to fulfill those dreams in
a way she has recently talked to me about. ... This incident has made
her stronger in her belief in helping others."
Springgate argued that
Fratto would never have been arrested if she had not come forward and
confessed because she felt guilty. There was no forensic evidence
linking Fratto to the crime.
But as Springgate tried to
convince Papez that his client was a person who could be rehabilitated
and was not a monster, Micaela's mother and members of her family in
the audience shook their heads in disagreement.
Micaela's mother, father and
one of her sisters each asked the judge to deliver the maximum
penalty. Cecilia Costanzo was in tears, and at times shaking, as she
recounted how her life has been turned upside down.
"It's basically destroyed
me," Costanzo told the judge.
She said she can't even
cook, go to the grocery store or even read books with her
grandchildren because those are events that remind her of what she
used to do with her daughter.
"There's not a day, a
moment, a second that I don't think about her and what we would be
doing. I can't even go out and have a lunch because that was kind of
our thing on Mondays and Tuesdays," she said while wiping away tears.
"With Micaela being gone, there's a part of me that has just been
Micaela would have graduated
from high school in a few weeks. Not only was she a star athlete on
the track team, she was also editor of the school newspaper and had
aspirations of becoming a writer.
"I don't have that chance to
see Micaela grow to see her become the author, the mom. ... I can't
make this right for Micaela, only the court can," she said.
Costanzo said Micaela's
death also deeply affects her sisters.
"My daughter is not the same
girl at all. She can't live in Wendover. She quit college. She's
struggling just trying to go on day by day. She's pulled herself away
from everyone because she and Mickey were so close, she just can't be
...," an emotional Costanzo said. "She has a hard time being around
anything that reminds her of Micaela and what they always did
Christina Lininger, another
older sister of Micaela, echoed those feelings, saying she no longer
feels safe in her own community.
"Now I'm just scared all the
time," she said. "I beg you to give her the same thing she gave my
sister. She didn't give her a chance, she could have helped her."
Lininger wiped back tears as
she mentioned how Fratto can call her parents while in jail, but she
can never again call Micaela to tell her she loves her.
Micaela's father, Theodore
Anthony Costanzo Jr., told the judge he thinks of his daughter every
"I wouldn't know where to
start, because I still think I'm dreaming. I think this can't be
happening here," he said, when asked how his daughter's death has
He too asked Papez to
deliver the maximum sentence.
"I don't want nothing good
for her, ever. That's what I say, that's what I want," he said.
Torvinen reminded the judge
that despite the mitigating evidence presented, "The central reality
of this murder is that the defendant before you acknowledged
voluntarily participating in it. It's as horrific a murder as I
suspect you will ever see as a judge."
The prosecutor also called
Micaela "as innocent a victim as anyone might envision."
As Papez recounted how
brutal Micaela's killing was, her family sitting in the audience broke
down in tears again. He then delivered the maximum sentence, prompting
an audible cheer of "yes!" from at least one member of the audience.
After the judge and members
of Micaela's family left the courtroom, Fratto bowed her head down to
the table in front of her, buried her face in her hands and cried. She
was then allowed a tearful brief conversation with her father before
being led away with her hands handcuffed and feet shackled.
As part of the plea
agreement, Fratto may be called to testify during Patten's trial.
Mormon girl Toni Fratto
'helped teenage lover beat his ex-girlfriend to death with shovel'
By Lena Sullivan -
July 16, 2011
A Mormon teenager will stand trial for allegedly
helping her lover to kill his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend, a judge has
Toni Fratto, 19, and Kody Patten, 18, are accused
of hitting Micaela Costanzo over the head with a shovel, cutting her
throat and then burying her body in a shallow grave just outside West
Prosecutors claim the couple, who were planning to
get married, murdered Micaela because she had been texting Patten
asking to get back together with him.
After the killing the pair drove to a nearby
swimming pool to 'clean up' - and then went to McDonald's, the court
Patten was charged just days after the murder in
March, but Fratto was arrested more than a month later, after she
allegedly confessed to Patten's father and his lawyer.
On Thursday a judge ruled she, too, will now stand
trial alongside her boyfriend on murder and kidnapping charges.
In the taped confession, which Fratto's lawyer has
dismissed as 'wholly rubbish', she told lawyers the couple had
arranged to speak to Micaela after she sent Patten text messages
asking to get back together.
The pair had dated a couple of years previously,
but had broken up before Patten and Fratto began their relationship.
In January he was baptised as a Mormon so they
couple could get married at the Temple.
Fratto told lawyers Patten picked her and Micaela
up and then drove out of town because Micaela, described as a popular
student, 'didn't want anyone to see us or anything.'
As they drove, Micaela became more and more
agitated, according to Fratto.
When they stopped, Micaela and Patten got out of
the car to talk. The conversation soon descended into a shouting
match, and the pair began shoving each other, Fratto claims.
She told lawyers: 'I looked away, and then heard a
loud thud on the car.'
Fratto got out and saw the 16-year-old lying on the
ground. She said: 'Everything from there on out was kind of a blur to
me. It went downhill from there.'
According to Fratto, they started 'freaking out'
and they didn't know what to do.
So she allegedly hit Micaela in the back with a
shovel, and then together she and Patten cut the girl's throat, she
Then they buried her body in a shallow grave and
Fratto said they were both in shock, and asked
themselves repeatedly: 'What did we just do? What do we do? We didn't
know what we had just done.'
According to Patten's father, Kip, Fratto told him
the pair went to a local swimming pool to 'clean up' - and then went
But Fratto's defence lawyer claims that the
recording wasn't credible, and parts of it were completely made-up.
He claims some details of the confession did not
tally with how Micaela was killed, and surveillance cameras at the
school only show Patten, not Fratto.
He also said Patten's father drove Fratto to his
lawyer's office to make her confession when her parents were out of
town, as he knew they didn't want her to speak to an attorney without
them being present.
Under cross-examination, Kip Patten testified: 'She
said she wanted to come forward with it. She didn't want Kody to pay
for something they both participated in.'
There is no forensic evidence linking Fratto to the
murder, the court heard,
A two-day preliminary hearing for Patten is due to
start on August 2.
Police, Defense Search
For Evidence For And Against Toni Fratto’s Bombshell Confession
By Howard Copelan Coyote-tv.com
May 20, 2011
The bombshell confession of West Wendover teen Toni
Fratto that she was involved in the murder of Micaela Costanzo has
prompted a flurry of activity from both the defense and the
prosecution looking for evidence either corroborating her confession
or exonerating the girl.
Forensic specialist from the Washoe Crime Lab were
in Wendover this week collecting samples from Fratto’s home, car and
clothes in an effort to find some trace evidence that would confirm at
least her presence during the time of the killing. Investigators also
reportedly combed through the murder scene as well as the gravel pit
used where some of Mickey Costanzo’s possessions were found partially
It is unknown as of press time whether these real
life CSI’s have found a smoking gun such as Costanzo’s blood on
But as one side searches of for evidence that would
confirm Fratto’s confession, her defense team is looking for any
evidence that would generate doubt as to the confession’s accuracy.
In a legal maneuver worthy of silver screen Reno
Attorney John Ohlson submitted an audio tape of Toni Fratto admitting
to being one of Micaela Costanzo’s killers during a pretrial hearing
for his client Kody Patten on May 3rd in Elko district court. Until
that moment Patten was the only suspect in the murder that shook
Wendover to its very core.
According to the police report of the tape Fratto
states that she and Patten drove Costanzo five miles west of Wendover
to an NDOT gravel pit. There the couple beat unconscious and then
Fratto cut the young girl’s throat with a knife. The two then buried
her in a shallow grave and then drove about ten miles past Wendover
Utah to burn the knife and Costanzo’s possessions at another gravel
pit about 3 miles northeast of Wendover, Utah.
According to the police report, if Fratto was as
she claims a participant, the entire crime and the cleanup had to have
taken place between the hours of 5 pm and 6 pm March 3rd, at the very
most an hour.
While the girl’s whereabouts is not known from 5
pm, she and her mother were recorded as being in attendance at a West
Wendover Recreation District meeting at 6 pm and witnesses report they
arrived a few minutes before the meeting was gaveled to begin.
“I think they were there a little before the
meeting began,” said board chairman Kerry Robinson.
A run through conducted Wednesday by the High
Desert Advocate suggested that 55 minutes was enough time but just
barely. Following Fratto’s version of events in the police report the
Advocate timed the drive involved. The drive from the West Wendover
High School to the Nevada gravel pit, the murder scene took
approximately 10 minutes. The drive back through Wendover to the Utah
gravel pit took approximately 15 minutes and the drive back from the
Utah gravel pit to the Fratto house another 15 minutes. With the drive
times subtracted the couple if Fratto’s account is true had about 20
minutes to commit the murder, destroy the evidence across town and
then return home to cleanup before Toni Fratto was seen again with her
There also could be video evidence that would cut
those 20 minutes even further. According to confidential sources Toni
Fratto was picking up her mother from work at the Peppermill Casino
well before 6 pm and might have been recorded by the company’s
security camera’s. She may also have been recorded on the city of West
Wendover security camera when she reportedly left off her father for a
union meeting also before 6 pm at City Hall.
Depending on the whether those videos were saved
and the time stamps on them, they could render at least Toni Fratto’s
time line at the very least improbable. If there is credible evidence
that the girl was seen either alone or with her parents in much
earlier it would make her time line impossible.
Not discounting the possibility the girl lied about
the chain of events in the murder while she was confessing to the
killing there may be other chinks in her story.
According to confidential sources on the Friday
after the murder Fratto received several calls from Patten directing
her to tell police that he was with her during the time of the
According to sources at no time during any of
Patten’s interrogation sessions with police did he implicate his lover
Fratto. And there was no physical evidence, at least none released to
the public, linking her to the crime.
Starting with her cool demeanor supposedly less
than an hour after brutally cutting Mickey Costanzo’s throat, she gave
away nothing more than being the distraught girlfriend of a confessed
murderer. And she walked out of her one and only police interview
while Mickey Costanzo was only missing with an apology from the police
for troubling her. For six weeks the girl went about her daily routine
and never raise any suspicions with police or sheriff’s detectives.
In fact her entry into the law offices of Patten’s
attorney Jeffrey Kump, April 22nd in Elko came as complete surprise
both to the defense and later to the prosecution. Indeed as one
officer put it, if she had just kept her mouth shut she never would
have seen the inside of the Elko County Jail let alone face the
prospect of spending the rest of her life in prison.
From the minute the news broke the overwhelming
feeling from those who knew her was that far from a criminal
mastermind with ice water for blood. Rather many in town believe Toni
Fratto was confessing to a crime she didn’t and some say could not
have committed at the behest of her jailed lover.
Patten certainly had the opportunity to make such a
request. Fratto visited him as often as twice a week making the four
hour round trip to Elko on Wednesdays and Sunday ever since Patten was
arrested n May 7th.
She also talked to him at least once a day thanks
to a collect calling plan purchased by her father. The frequent and
continued contact the girl had with Patten also suggest and
alternative reason why Fratto knew details of the murder not released
to the public. Patten may have simply told her.
Far from the black widow who directed Patten to
kill a romantic or social rival, friends and acquaintances of both
Fratto and Patten describe her as a mouse of a girl who was “barely
Indeed some friends relate the Patten held the
whole Fratto family in thrall and what official records exist tend to
support the allegation.
He moved into the home after his own parents threw
him out and bragged to classmates how he verbally and emotionally
abused his benefactors.
So complete was his domination of the family,
friends relate, that even when Patten was caught on school grounds
strangling Toni Fratto just months before the murder, Claude and
Cassie Fratto refused to press criminal charges and allowed the very
disturbed young man back into their home.
Regardless of whether Fratto’s confession is true
it may have already achieved the effect of taking the death penalty
off the table at least in regards to Kody Patten on the other hand it
may very well put Fratto on death row herself.
Toni Fratto, second
suspect in Nev. murder of Micaela Costanzo, arrested
By Camille Mann -
May 6, 2011
(CBS/KUTV/AP) WEST WENDOVER, Nev. - Police have
arrested teenage girl Toni Fratto, the second suspect in the shovel
slaying and shallow burial of 16-year-old Micaela Costanzo just west
of the Nevada-Utah state line March 3.
Fratto,19, is the fiancée of Kody Patten, who was
arrested in early March and who police say confessed to striking
Micaela with a shovel. Fratto was named as the second suspect in the
murder after a taped phone conversation surfaced, according to CBS
In court on Tuesday, Patten's attorneys presented
an audio recording of Fratto. The recording was made April 22, when
Fratto was on the phone with Patten and said she used a deadly weapon
and was involved in the disposal as well as the destruction of
Micaela's personal property and other potential evidence, according to
police, the station reports.
Police say Fratto also provided details of the
crime in the recording that are not public knowledge and would only be
known by someone involved.
Fratto was arrested Wednesday night and faces the
same murder charges as her boyfriend, Patten.
Kody Cree Patten, 19, gets life without parole
for murdering classmate in Wendover
By Pat Reavy - Deseret News.com
August 24, 2012
ELKO, Nev. — "Your blood
runs cold, Mr. Patten. There shall be no possibility of parole."
Those words from Elko
District Judge Daniel Papez Friday prompted cheers from the family of
murdered West Wendover High School student Micaela "Mickey" Costanzo.
The final chapter in the
2011 brutal killing of 16-year-old Micaela was written Friday in an
Elko courtroom when 19-year-old Kody Cree Patten was sentenced to life
in prison without the possibility of parole.
Papez said he considered
Patten's young age when handing down his sentence. But what outweighed
that concern was the crime itself. Papez called it "the worst kind of
"Micaelea's murder was
carried out with gruesome, vicious, merciless violence," Papez said,
while also noting that it was premeditated.
Patten, clean-shaven and
wearing a suit, stood with his hands behind his back and showed little
to no emotion as the sentence was issued.
Earlier in the hearing,
Micaela's father pointed at Patten from the witness stand and angrily
"You had no right, kid. You
had no right to do that. I got a question for you though: Why don't
you tell me why. Why'd you harm her?" Theodore Anthony Costanzo Jr.
The prosecutor had to quiet
Costanzo, telling him to stick to answering questions.
When asked what sentence he
believed should be imposed, the father replied: "I want him to walk
into that penitentiary, and when he leaves it, he'll be in a box."
When it was Patten's turn to
address the court, he took several long pauses, appearing to collect
his thoughts — sometimes reaching for a tissue — and told the court he
continues to go over in his head what happened that day.
But he couldn't answer why
he killed the girl.
"I've sat and tried to go
over it and over it. There's no reason, there's no why, no
justification for it. Sorry's not enough. I apologize for everything.
I'm sorry," he said.
"I can't describe what
happened, can't even begin to describe it," he said. "Sorry isn't
enough. … I wish I could ask for forgiveness but I don't feel I
During his rambling speech,
Patten said Micaela "was always good to me" and "anything a friend
could ask for."
"The more I stand here, the
more I see how horrible this is," he said. "Her family didn't deserve
it. Mickey didn't deserve it."
Patten then recited part of
a poem that Micaela had written, talking about a glimmer of beauty
beneath "all the ugly" in the world.
"Micaela was the glimmer of
beauty for people," Patten said, which caused her mother, Cecilia
Costanzo, to cry even harder.
In May, Patten accepted a
plea deal, pleading guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for
being spared the death penalty.
The deal came after
co-defendant Toni Fratto — Patten's former girlfriend — struck her own
plea deal in April and also avoided a possible death penalty, pleading
guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder. Fratto, 19, was
sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. She will
serve a minimum 18 years in prison before being eligible to be
Though both defendants have
pleaded guilty, each side still has very differing accounts of what
actually happened, each maintaining that the other party was more
Patten is accused of
kidnapping Micaela after school on March 3, 2011. He and Fratto then
drove Micaela to a remote area in the desert near the Utah-Nevada
border and killed her. Patten allegedly shoved Micaela to the ground,
causing her to hit her head on a rock and go into a seizure, followed
by Fratto hitting her on the head with a shovel. Fratto's attorneys
say their client then sat on Micaela's legs while Patten slashed her
throat. Patten, however, has denied being the one who cut Micaela's
throat, maintaining it was Fratto.
Patten wrote a letter to the
judge as part of the pre-sentence report. In it, Patten wrote he did
not intend for Fratto to cut Micaela's throat.
"The evidence does not
support your statement," Papez said, accusing Patten of trying to
minimize his role in the crime. "I don't believe you. You were the
primary perpetrator of the murder.
"Micaela's sweet voice will
never be heard again," the judge continued. "Her sweet smile will
never be seen again because of you, Mr. Patten. Your acts of planning
this murder, carrying out this murder in such a vicious manner and
then attempting to cover up this murder, are hardly the acts of an
impulsive, irrational teenage mind. You always had the ability to stop
the wheels of this murder you put into motion, Mr. Patten."
After killing her, Patten
and Fratto buried Micaela in a shallow grave and took some of her
possessions to the Utah side of Wendover to burn. Papez said the
couple then "callously" washed up and went to Wendover to get a drink.
Micaela's mother and sisters
said time has only made things worse since Mickey's death. They said
they continue to have nightmares.
"This man should never see
the light of day or be given the chance to see the light of day ever
again," said Cecilia Costanzo. "He took my daughter's life. He didn't
give her a chance to finish high school or to get married or to have
children or to go to college. He had no right to take her. So he has
no right to have a life or have anything. … He should never be free to
do anything ever again."
"I can't find joy anymore. I
think it's so sad. It makes me wonder when anything will be OK
anymore," said Micaela's sister, DJ.
Members of Patten's family,
including his mother and father, also spoke to the court. Each
described Patten as a caring person whom they could never imagine was
capable of such a horrific act.
"It's very unlike him.
Micaela was our friend, we loved her. She was Kody's best friend,"
said Donna Patten, Kody's mother.
Patten's family reminded the
court that Kody had EMT training and had already been accepted to join
the U.S. Marines and was even given a deployment date before the
His attorney, John Ohlson,
implored the judge to uphold the principle of "hope, redemption and
compassion" and give Patten both a chance to prove and improve himself
while in prison.
Outside the courtroom, all
parties left without comment. Cecila Costanzo briefly said she was
happy that "justice had been served" before walking arm in arm with
her family to their cars in the parking lot to drive back to Wendover.